In the previous (April 15, 2021) issue of REVITALIZATION, we announced the launch of Ireland’s ambitious Our Rural Future program to revitalize rural communities and regions nationwide.
They aren’t wasting any time turning pronouncements into projects. On April 19, 2021, their Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, announced that €75 million had been allocated for 24 landmark regeneration projects in rural communities across the country.
The funding, which is being provided under the €1 billion Rural Regeneration and Development Fund will support the key objectives of Our Rural Future; the Government’s ambitious new revitalization policy for rural Ireland.
A large number of the successful projects provide for the regeneration of vacant town centre buildings as remote working and hot-desking facilities. These projects will support remote workers and commuters to work from and remain in their own local community.
Minister Humphreys said, “Just three weeks ago, the Government launched Our Rural Future, the most ambitious and transformational policy for rural development in decades. Today we are putting that policy firmly into action and delivering major investment aimed at town centre regeneration and supporting remote working. These projects will breathe new life into towns and villages across the country, making them attractive and vibrant places for people to live, work, socialise and raise a family.”
Examples of funded projects include:
- €8.78m for Ballybofey-Stranolar, Co. Donegal: Restoration of the old Ritz Cinema Heritage Building into a 1,400sq.m Enterprise and Remote Working Hub.
- €6m for Ballymahon, Co. Longford: Renovation of three historic town centre buildings including the vacant former convent building, the old Boys School and the former Dean Egan Library into a Co-Working Space, Youth Hub and a Community Centre.
- €4m for Youghal Co. Cork: Derelict site and buildings on the main street to be transformed into a new library, remote learning hub and community space. This town centre project will significantly enhance the character and streetscape in the heart of Youghal.
- €2.8m for the Thurles Market Quarter, Co Tipperary: This project will renovate a 19th Century vacant agriculture building and associated car park to create the new Thurles Market Quarter. The new Quarter will include a designated market space, a multi-functional events space and a Student’s Union and Café.
- €2m for Remote Working Hub on Iveragh Peninsula, Co Kerry: This project will deliver a Digital Hub that will provide workspace for up to 50 people on the peninsula. The gteic Hub will provide remote learning and upskilling programmes, support small businesses to develop and expand and provide remote we3edorking space for the surrounding region.
- €2.55m for Portumna Courthouse Arts Centre, Co. Galway: After being vacant for two decades, the courthouse will be the site of a new multi-purpose arts, performance, remote working and social space, with the courtyard becoming an outdoor social space.
- €8.2m for Cardonagh, Co Donegal: This is a transformational project for the centre of Carndonagh. It will see the regeneration of an old Department Store in the heart of the town-centre to become a new Digital Fabrication Laboratory and Co-Working Hub, deliver a social space for young people and teenagers and also provide a Creative Makers Hub in the town for creative and craft industries. The project also encompasses a new pedestrian street and public realm park, a new demountable canopied area in the Diamond civic space and public realm improvements.
- €795,000 for the former Ballyconnell Market House, Co Cavan: This project will renovate and redevelop a heritage building, the former Market House located in the centre of Ballyconnell, into a Community, Remote Working and Tourism Hub. The new hub will help enable the town to capitalise on the natural assets in the area including the UNESCO Marble Arch Caves Geopark and the Shannon Erne Waterway while also providing essential community services, including the provision of remote working facilities and access to education courses and programmes.
- €1.9m for Dromahair, Co Leitrim: This project will see the regeneration of an old Hotel building and site in the town centre into a new library, e-learning, cultural and creative hub.
- €7.6m for Kinnegad, Co Westmeath: This project will see the regeneration of an old school in the town centre into a community library, remote learning, education and training space. A town park, playground and outdoor events space will be developed adjacent to the building creating an iconic community and civic space in Kinnegad town centre.
- €671,377 for Enfield Enterprise Hub: Renovation of a vacant industrial building in the Town Centre into a Community and Enterprise Hub. The project will help to retain talent locally and support co-working in this growing commuter town.
- €1.3m for Newbliss Enterprise and Digital Hub, Co Monaghan: This project will deliver the full regeneration and redevelopment of Newbliss Courthouse as an Enterprise and Digital Hub. The Hub will act a key driver for economic recovery, retaining talent locally, creating and supporting jobs, increasing footfall and activity and addressing a long derelict building in the heart of the village.
- €2.8m for Omeath, Co Meath: This project will regenerate and revitalise the centre of Omeath providing a pedestrian zone in the village centre and improved linkages to the Great Eastern Greenway. The project will support the development of the village as a stop-off tourist destination on the greenway, increase footfall and support the creation of visitor-focused local businesses.
Humphreys continued, “When I launched Our Rural Future, I said I wanted to see innovative and exciting projects coming forward that would make a real and lasting difference in our rural towns and villages – that’s exactly what the projects we are announcing today are about. It is absolutely clear that Local Authorities and communities across the country have picked up the ball on remote working and ran with it. I am delighted that so many of the successful projects today will see the development of remote working and hot-desking facilities in rural towns and villages.”
“These projects will not only enable people to live and work in their community but they will also see iconic town centre buildings given a new lease of life and increase football for local businesses,” she continued. “Supporting the development of remote working facilities in places like Enfield and Carrickmacross will give commuters in those areas the choice to work locally rather than spend hours in traffic each day.”
“A large number of these projects also include significant public realm works such as developing new pedestrian areas in town centres, creating new green areas and developing new outdoor public spaces for community and cultural events – these projects will help to make our towns attractive, lived in and vibrant places,” Humphries concluded. “Today you are seeing Our Rural Future in action – and this is only the beginning. In the coming weeks, I will be inviting new applications under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and bringing forward an enhanced Town and Village Renewal Scheme which will provide rural communities with more opportunities to make exciting and impactful projects like these a reality.”
Photo of Kinnegad (one of the funded communities) is by Sarah777 at English Wikipedia.